Exchange is change. It is fast, brutal, colourful, painful, amazing and unexpected. It is a change in your lifestyle, your eating/drinking/sleeping habits, your parents, your friends, your borders, simply everything.
In one moment you think you know who you are or who you wanna be and in the other moment you have no idea who you are anymore because you discover a completely new side about you in a super weird situation. Sometimes it feels like you jump without any preperation into an ice cold lake. You get to know the feeling how it is to be completely on your own. Far away from your secure home, from all these things you love or loved, with no one you really know. The only thing you know is that you have to handle everything, it doesn’t matter how! And you experience that you actually can do it!
Exchange is thinking… all the time… about everything. You think about the strange and unknown language; about the food; about the tasks you still have to do for the university; about weird signs inside the metro and about stuff that is written on food you want to buy; about why you are here and not at home; about how much money you’ve already spent; about your friends and family at home and how it is going to be when you come back home again; about the point of all of all of this; about what is wright and what is wrong; about who you want to be and what aims you want to reach. You are thinking all the time and even when you think that you don’t think you catch yourself thinking about thinking or thinking about a specific word in the new language.
Exchange and people. Strange, funny, terrible, boring, awesome, weird people. Some of them look at you like you are an alien, some of them try to avoid to talk to you, some are afraid of you, some of them talk to you, some of them even give you a smile and with some of them you actually become friends. You meet people who make jokes of your country, your language, your pronunciation, your clothes; but you also meet those who invite you to their homes and those who actually help you with every single shit you need for the university and other stuff. You meet people who stab your back. Exchange is sometimes unconfortable because you feel out of place and like the third wheel. You have to talk to people you don’t know, you sometimes don’t even like. Sometimes it sucks to be nice all the time. And then you still have your friends and family at home and you should keep contact. It’s hard. Sometimes you feel guilty because you haven’t talked to someone of them at home for a long time and sometimes you feel homesick after talking to a friend or family member.
Exchange is unbelievable. You can feel the conection between you and your room mates, your friends here, your university mates. You feel how your relation to them grows until you feel like you know them forever. Unknown streets become familiar to you and you greet people that you randomly meet at the streets because you know them from a friend or a party. You become everyday more self-confident and you realize that this city you have been now for a few months became really familiar to you.
Exchange is Erasmus. You meet amazing people from all over the world and you know that you can visit them whenever you want. You know that you have a place to sleep now nearly all over the world. These people know exactly how you feel and they become your absolute best friends here. This kind of friends who take almost one hour to say their final goodbyes to eachother.
Exchange is falling in love with an amazing city, awesome people, beautiful places you didn’t even know that they exist. Exchange is also frustrating because you often don’t understand the people around you and the language.
Exchange is not like you expected it to be and everything you wanted it to be, it is the best time of your life so far, it is something you will never forget, something that is part of you know and something that nobody at home can really understand. It is growing up and living your life as you want, it is about beeing independent and dependent in the same time and it is trying to explain that all to your parents, your family members and friends. Exchange is everything. And Erasmus is something you cannot understand unless you have been through it!
Erasmus is not a year in your life. It is a life in one year.